Latitude/Precision ON button configuration? - General Hardware - Laptop - Dell Community

Latitude/Precision ON button configuration?


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Latitude/Precision ON button configuration?

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I have an M4500 with both a 64Gb SSD and the 500Gb HDD.  As a result, Precision ON Flash is not available and all I could get is Precision ON Reader.

As many have discovered Precision ON Reader is not very useful as it does not support Wifi or actually reading anything new.  All it does is allow you to browse the exported items from your Outlook account.

All I really want is a VERY fast boot system with WiFi and Web browsing.

I can get completely into Win 7 in about a minute, so I want something even faster.
I set up a dual boot with Ubuntu 10.04. From the point where I get the dual boot menu it takes less than 20 seconds to be completely up in Ubuntu.

It would be nice to be able to reconfigure the "ON" button to directly boot Ubuntu and let the standard power button boot directly to Win 7.  (Or fool the system into doing so)

Anyone have any ideas how to do so? There does not seem to be anything in the Bios about this button, though that would be the logical place for it to be set.



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  • Anything?  Anyone?

    I can't be the only one who wants to do something else with this button.


  • You're not the only one who wants to do something with this button.

    I have a pair of Latitude E6410s preinstalled with Win7, one from Dell Outlet in the US without LatitudeON, and one from Dell Hong Kong with Latitude ON Flash. I'm planning to install Ubuntu 10.10 beta on both as dual boot, and for the laptop that doesn't already have LatitudeON, I'd like to use that button to go straight to linux, just as you said.

    I've only found one page online that describes what this would take, and it's for a Latitude E4300. I'm assuming the procedure would be the same for other systems, but I haven't started on it for my own system yet. Check out, and look in the "Discussion" section for a comment by Vasilis, on Friday, October 2nd, 2009. He gives a procedure for setting up the Latitude ON button to boot straight into linux, but it seems a little overly complex to me. (For instance, does he really need to install GRUB to a second partition?) Some others, responding to his post, seem to indicate that it wouldn't have to be that complicated, either. Following his procedure, though, you have to make sure not to install GRUB to the MBR when you install your linux OS, and then use the Win7 bootloader to chainload into linux.

    I'm planning to ask some other more knowledgeable linux users for their suggestion before I do anything. I'll respond again if I hear anything worth adding. Or, if I manage to get it working, I'll add that, too.

  • Thanks.  I can more or less follow what he is saying but the version of Reader (2.1) on my M4500 does not seem to have some of the files, like ion_install.exe that he mentions.  Let us know if you get this to work.



  • Sorry this is long in coming. I got my computers set up, and then got distracted by actually using them to do work (imagine that! I'm not a full-time IT specialist; I'm a field linguist who ends up having to do a lot of his own IT support) before trying to get the power button customization to work. I've been waiting for a free couple of days to try the suggestions from "Vasilis" on, but I can at least update you (not that you're waiting in that much suspense) on what hasn't worked so far.

    So, from the web, there appeared to be two possible ways to get the LatitudeON button to work to start the computer directly into Ubuntu: (1) the way described by the commenter "Vasilis" at, which requires using the Windows bootloader and chain-loading to grub on the Windows partition, and then to one of the Linux partitions; (2) using the "vendor power-on button" possibility of grub 2, as described at

    I had installed Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat onto my computers alongside the factory Win7 installation, so I already had a working grub 2 installation (that is, with grub 2 in the MBR). I thought I'd try the grub option first as the option which required fewer changes to the existing configuration. The link above, which is a manual for grub 2, indicates that the required first step is to tell grub what the CMOS address of the vendor power-on button is. An email from May 2010 to the grub development list (at explains a procedure for doing this. I followed this procedure, and came up with a CMOS address of 104:5 for my Latitude E6410. When I added appropriate lines using the _BUTTON suffix in /etc/default/grub, updated grub, shut down, and tried to restart using the LatitudeON button, the computer did begin to boot, but I ended at a screen which began "The LatitudeON Reader software is not installed on your computer...", and gave me the option to reboot by pressing any key. So, this behavior didn't seem any different than before I had made this change to grub. It's reported that Dell XPS M1530 laptops (and other reports online are that the M1330 is the same) work with this option of grub 2 (using Dell MediaDirect button, maybe?) with a CMOS address of the vendor power-on button as 85:3. Just for kicks, I tried changing my /etc/default/grub file to use *that* address, also, but I saw no difference in boot behavior. So, I conclude from this that either I have the CMOS address of this button wrong, or that something is keeping grub from behaving in the intended way on my laptop. (But, of course, your mileage may vary.) I'd be happy to try any other CMOS addresses, if anyone has a suggestion.

    So, I was left with the first option that I discovered, namely, using the Windows boot loader in the MBR to chain-load to grub on one of the linux partitions, as described at the link above. Since I have a working installation booting by means of grub, and since I actually do have to produce work, it may be a while before I can get the LatitudeON button working for me according to the first method. (As for getting the files ion_install.exe and such, I downloaded the installer from Dell from the link above, then unzipped it and used unshield in Linux to extract the files I wanted from the .cab files in the installer.)

    Of course, a nicer way would be for Dell to come along and say, "Here's how to configure the behavior of that button..." Until that happens, I'm still looking for a free weekend to try out Vasilis's method.